Bear Grylls’ Best Man Speech – What Not to Do

He’s got balls, he’s a professional TV presenter, he’s got an arsenal of good stories – you’d expect Bear to give a good best man speech. But if this video is anything to go by, Bear ain’t no #weddinghero.

Admittedly, having a celebrity say you’re awesome is kind of cool. And if you do happen to know one, we recommend you rope them in to the Best Buddy role (even if they can’t be bothered to come to the wedding and send you a speech-video instead). The bridesmaids will love it.

But let’s look at the stats. Over two years after Bear’s best man video was posted, it still has less than 300 views. Compare that to Tom Fletcher (from McFly)’s groom speech which has over 19 million views.

The reason for this discrepancy is simple – 1) people love annoyingly catchy pop songs and 2) Bear’s speech is really pretty rubbish. Granted, it has a helicopter but other than that, it’s completely vanilla.

Yes, Bear can drink his own urine and wrestle a range of reptiles. He’s hard, he’s exciting but well, he’s overly earnest and rather unimaginative if that video’s anything to go by.

It’s ironic really as Bear’s written advice on how to give a best man speech for GQ magazine

To be fair, he admits it’s one of the hardest challenges a man can face and he does actually give some good advice.

Best man Advice - In Summary

  • Don’t be scared to be really honest. The more honest you are the more effective you will be. If that means standing up and admitting that you’re incredibly nervous, then do it. Not only will your audience respect you for it, they’ll be emotionally engaged and you’ll have made that important connection.
  • Brevity is also key. Less is always more. None of the great speeches or sermons that have been given over the years try to deliver endless points, because people can’t remember them and they switch off. Remember that the Gettysburg Address was only ten sentences in length.
  • Resist padding your speech out with general gags. If you do want to inject some humour, remember that self-deprecating stories about yourself are often much funnier than starting or ending your speech with a punch line that everyone knows you found on the internet. And if you’re giving a best man speech, resist the temptation to raise a laugh by putting the groom down – make sure your funny stories always end up leaving him in a great light.
  • It’s a rare orator who can successfully speak off the cuff. If a speaker looks like they’re ad-libbing brilliantly, they’re probably incredibly well trained and practised. It might sound obvious, but as with so many things in life, it’s worth preparing your speech thoroughly and practising it often. I do it out loud while driving.
  • Someone once said that the best spontaneity is rehearsed. If you want to appear to be ad-libbing, in reality you need to be concise, tight and well practised. (Source: GQ)

Bear makes some good points here. Forget the internet jokes. Practise being ‘spontaneous’. Keep it short. But he also misses some crucial points that he illustrates perfectly in the video.

What Bear Forgot

Paint a picture

  • After watching that video we still have no idea what sort of bloke Delbert Shoopman III is (other than he must be a resilient chap having coped with such an usual moniker his whole life). Bear tells us nothing. He says Delbert’s great but it’s all just generic clichés.
  • A good best man speech should leave a stranger wanting to get to know the groom better. It needs to prove he’s a great bloke, not just tell us he is. It needs to involve stories and include witty observations. It should make his friends nod in recognition and his family smile.

Humour

  • Bear seems to think if you’re funny, you’re at risk of losing some of your speech’s sincerity. Wrong. Taking the mick out of your mate is, in its own way, a sincere form of friendship. It proves you really ‘get him’ and it shows you’re proper mates.
  • Taking the mick is how British blokes say we like each other.

Cut the clichés

  • ‘Beautiful’, ‘loyalty’, ‘honesty’, ‘loved’, ‘admired’ – Bear certainly loves a positive adjective. But us? Nah, not so much. In context yes, but in isolation, without any evidence to back it up, it just feels a bit lazy. And rather cheesy.
  • Bear and Delbert have clearly had some adventures together, surely they could have provided a bit of meat on the bone. What exactly was the advice Delbert gave Bear? Stop drinking your own wee?
  • The truth is guests love a good story. Your speech needs a few good anecdotes in it (and the one about hearing about the bride for the first time doesn’t count). Think about the stories that are genuinely entertaining as well as illustrating the groom’s qualities.

So there you have it. Bear Grylls – he may be king of the jungle but he’s yet to master the marquee. He certainly nailed the sincerity but it could have been so much punchier, wittier and memorable.

Hopefully you can do a #betterman speech. Good luck my friend.

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